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Core Courses


PY201 - Philosophy

 

Course Overview
This course helps third class cadets develop their capacities to think clearly and critically. It acquaints cadets with various view points on major philosophic issues, assists them in acquiring a facility with the language, arguments, and methods of moral discourse, and gives special attention to the subject of war and morality.
PY201 supports cadet achievement of the following United States Military Academy Academic Program Goals:
  • Ethical Reasoning:  Graduates recognize ethical issues and apply ethical perspectives and concepts in decision making.
  • Critical Thinking and Creativity:  Graduates think critically and creatively.
  • Communication:  Graduates communicate effectively with all audiences.
Course Key Terms:
  • Critical Thinking: world view, claims, arguments, validity, soundness, deductive vs. inductive arguments, and fallacies.
  • Ethical Theory: objectivism, relativism, consequentialism, egoism, utilitarianism, principle of utility, deontological ethics, Kant’s categorical imperative, virtue ethics, and the concept of the mean.
  • Just War Theory: jus ad bellum (just war criteria, interventions, preemptive/anticipatory attacks, preventive war, “minimally just” states, and rights of “minimally just” states), jus in bello (discrimination, noncombatant immunity, doctrine of double effect, moral equality of combatants, and proportionality), jus post bellum, realism, pacifism, terrorism, and supreme emergency.
 
Course Objectives (Cadets who complete PY201 will be able to...):
  • Describe relevant philosophical concepts.
    • Describe and identify the essential characteristics of PY201 critical thinking terms.
    • Describe and identify the essential characteristics of PY201 ethical theory terms.
    • Describe and identify the essential characteristics of PY201 just war theory terms.
  • Think critically in identifying, analyzing, and evaluating claims and arguments when listening, reading, and speaking.
    • Think critically in the course of identifying claims and arguments when appraising the works of others or composing one’s own.
    • Employ critical thinking concepts in the course of analyzing claims and arguments when appraising the works of others or composing one’s own.
    • Employ critical thinking concepts in the course of evaluating claims and arguments when appraising the works of others or composing one’s own.      
  • Identify moral issues and examine the implications of these issues.
    • Demonstrate ethical self awareness.
    • Understand different ethical theories and concepts.
    • Recognize and identify ethical issues.
    • Apply different ethical theories/concepts.
    • Evaluate different ethical theories/concepts.
  • Possess a critical understanding of the moral dimensions of war and the philosophical bases of those dimensions.
    • Understand key just war theory concepts and apply them to typical and unique cases.
    • Explain philosophical bases of key just war theory concepts.
    • Critically evaluate key just war theory concepts.
  • Create written arguments that are logically rigorous and conceptually precise through the writing process.
    • Understand and respond appropriately to the assignment. 
    • Develop a clear, coherent, and consistent argument.
    • Fairly treat opposing views.
    • Employ appropriate evidence.
    • Use language that is especially effective, evincing a clear argumentative style in speech and prose.
    • Keep to standards of college-level composition and be attentive to technical language as expected in the course.

 
Course Leadership
  • The PY201 Course Director for Academic Year 2013-2014 is LTC Chris Mayer, 845-938-0225, Christopher.Mayer@usma.edu
  • The PY201 Course Executive Officer for Academic Year 2014-2014 is MAJ Harry Jones, 845-938-2484, Harry.Jones@usma.edu
 
 Faculty:

LTC John Bauer
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Department of English and Philosophy, United States Military Academy, Room 228, West Point, New York 10996